Monday, 27 March 2017

Buy My Stuff Vol 1

I have a heap of things for sale. We'll start with the 'big' stuff - saddles x2 and bridles x2, all in excellent condition.

Stubben Juventus. 17" 32cm, dark brown color,  have owned since new (bought 6 years ago) and it's always been well maintained and taken care of. Usual marks on the flaps from leathers, but otherwise in very good condition. Comes with cover. $1000 CAD$750 US obo, plus shipping at cost.
Black with white padding bridle. Never used, sold my dark bay mare and I don't like the white on white look for my two mares with blazes. Comes with plain flat reins. OK quality, was about $100 new. No's pretty old school. $50CAD/$40US plus shipping at cost.

Mondega Amara saddle. 17" medium tree. Looks and rides pretty much like the Pessoa A/O I had. In almost new condition, belonged to the same dark bay mare I sold. Comes with leathers and irons pictures, plus matching leather girth (new) and fleece cover. $800 =$600 US, steal of a deal, this is a nice saddle.

Stubben split crown bridle in dark brown, Comes with laced stubben reins. Horse sized, plain noseband. Very well taken care of. $150CAD =$110 US. I thought I sold this on ebay...but payment has not materialized.. If it does magically appear in the next 24 hours I'll remove this, otherwise it's up for grabs :)
Lots more pics available if anyone is seriously interested. Feel free to share, I seriously don't need all this stuff in my tiny house :)

*Edited to add USD conversions for the non Canadian folks!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Weekend Happenings

Saturday was our adventure a few km up the road to an open jump schooling day. I'm of mixed feelings about how it went, but am overall glad I decided to go.

It was a new place for both of us. There was a large outdoor arena full of xc jumps, and an even larger(!) indoor full of show jumps. The barn really went out of their way to make it a good schooling course. Lots of different lines to take, and almost every jump was full of spooky fill and decor.

The owner coaches as well and seems lovely. She and her students were so welcoming and nice I'm now seriously considering attending an adult only eventing camp with them if Bridget behaves herself in the next couple of months. It's mid summer in the interior of our province at the Chase Creek event site, so a gorgeous place. Our barn is mostly kids and teens, and while I love them, a weekend riding and learning with other adults sounds tempting,

Anyway, on to my ride recap. Essentially, we warmed up like crap. Bridget did her standard cannot-go-forward-in-new-place routine, and her tantrum may or may not have scared the innocent bystanders. On the plus side my timing and technique for sitting rather large bucks while still applying my stick is getting really good!

Typical. Thought it was a cute pic, but reposting in a more appropriate context because she's actually got her tongue sticking out.

And...the jumping. Since B was being such a pony, we were encouraged to start over cross rails. And we basically stalled and sucked back and generally Hulk smashed our way around. It's good she never actually stopped at anything, terrible that every.single.stride. was underpowered despite all my efforts to the contrary. I think there is photo and video evidence coming. I may need to burn it.

The jumps were raised. The general consensus was that actual jumps = Bridget taking things a little more seriously. Also, I need to ride her like the pony she is and make those feet move, or else! Alrighty then.

I was seriously frustrated, so when EC was shouting "Ride her like the rotten pony she's being! Get after her!" I did. I dug a little deeper and after a couple of messy fences, had a couple of decent rounds. I still needed to put out more energy than I should have, but the pony went and did her job. And you better believe I made her gallop between fences :)  So, we quit there. Pony had used up most of her energy on evil, and I needed to grab that good note to end on while I could.

So, that's the story of how we showed up and only jumped a 2' course, yet still considered it a win.
Actual pic on the day. Can you see her excitement, even as horses gallop around her? ;)

On the plus side, the other horses found things at this barn very spooky, but B just napped quietly in the sun beside me while I sat and watched the rest of the riders deal with spooky new place drama and the kids played around her. So there's that. It's unlikely I'll die in any bolting/panicking horse scenario with Bridget, plus she makes an excellent dog.

Sunday, I hopped on with the intent of really schooling the forward. The weather was awful, really wet and very windy - a good old Pacific coast March storm. I opted for the arena.  As is often the case lately, as soon as I got in the arena, person who shall remain unnamed decided she needed to lunge her horse in the covered end of the ring (its only half covered and that's the end without jumps in the way). I think her horse is a bit of a handful and she's cautious so likes to work him when someone else is there...understandable, but its a time and space consuming process and, really seriously, must she wait exactly until I tack up every time? Such is life at a boarding barn. It's not overly interesting being stuck on a slightly bigger circle than the longing horse, nor can I make myself believe its overly safe. Being out in the elememts felt like the better option, and since we were going to get wet anyway, I switched it up and took B for another fitness hack. She shocked me by being super forward and giving me zero reasons to pick any fights with her. We had a fantastic gallop on the trail, which set the world completely to rights again, soaking wet or not.

Perhaps this is where we're going wrong.

I wish I understood why B's work ethic doesn't accompany us to new places. Maybe in the past I was easier on her off site because she was young and green, so she thinks the rules dont apply. Maybe because no one wants to be THAT person in the warmup. Maybe she needs to slow it down to take everything in? Maybe the trailer makes her sleepy. No clue, but its definitely a thing we need to stop, before it drives me completely crazy.

Eventing camp next weekend was cancelled due to our awful weather this winter, So, we've just signed up for the MREC 2 phase instead, in hopes of giving ourselves a fun and positive schooling show prior to the season.  I'll either do Starter (2'3") or Pre Entry (2'6") depending on pony behaviour/rider anxiety/EC's level of determination. After our less than stellar jump schools of late, the goal obviously isn't any impressive move ups, it's getting the pony forward and consistent again and for me to have some fun out there.
Reposting fave pic from last spring for inspiration, because B was so full of it here I actually had to take her for a canter to burn off a little steam so we could hack safely to our pace clinic!

Friday, 24 March 2017

True Story

I arrived at the barn early before work, my turn doing the morning feeding. I was surprised to see the barn lights already on and the door open - it's really rare anyone gets there before me. Still, it's spring break for the teens and a couple of them have pretty incredible work ethics - it's not out of the realm of possibility they'd be getting an early start on their rides.

More my level of dedication

I walked in, dropped my bag in the tack room, and walked over to the feed room. I reached around the corner to turn the light on and

Right in my face! He was sitting on the shelf by the light switch snarling as I calmly backed up ran away. After a couple of seconds, he bolted out the main barn door, carrying a bag of...something. Horse treats? I don't know, I wasn't following him to find out. Pheww, that was scary! Back over to the feed room I wandered, reached around the corner and

Holy sh!t. There were two of them.

PSA folks, remember to turn of the lights and shut the barn doors if you're the last rider in the barn. (That is, if you want to keep your barn staff, or at least save them from rabies/potential face biting raccoons :)

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Pony Fitness Week 1

To me, Fridays have always seemed like the start of the week for all things horsey, so I'm starting our fitness diary as of last Friday. If you'll recall, vet opinion number 1 was that B needs to lose weight and be fitter as a first step. The fitness aspect actually caught me off guard a bit - pony is used 6 days a week for at least one jumping and one dressage lesson, plus vaulting classes plus trail rides, 1 hillwork/fitness day, plus additional jump schooling and flatwork. That would have been plenty for any previous horse I've owned (heck, Ginger is very fit on the same schedule right now), but sadly, it's not enough for the Bridgets of the world and we need to step up our game.

I'm going to start keeping better track of our rides and see if we can mark some progress. I do have access to a heart rate monitor and will see if I can start borrowing that to help. I like the idea of using intervals, however we essentially live in the mountains and it's simply not possible to find a space big/flat enough to allow you to trot for 10 min and canter for 5 without footing or elevation becoming serious issues. Our arena is too busy most days as well, so I've sort of given up on keeping to a strict plan that way.

Friday: Jump school. 15min W/T/C warmup, 20 min jumping 2'3 -2'6". Started with single fences, finished with a course of 6 jumps twice (with a short break in between). B was starting to tire and was pretty sweaty.

Saturday: Trail ride. 15 min W/T/C warmup in the arena, 90 min trail ride on some challenging terrain, probably the steepest hills you could safely navigate around here.. Mostly walk, one short canter uphill (about 200m). B can walk all day, but that short canter and some of the steeper inclines really had her out of breath.

Sunday: Flatwork in the arena. She felt tired and a bit stiff, but warmed up out of it. W/T/C 30min. Finished with a ride up the "big hill" (1.3km/0.8mile to the top from the barn, elevation change of 132m/433ft, average slope = 10%, although the final half is the steep part averaging closer to 14%). Walked and trotted until she was puffing, then walked on the contact back down, making her use her bum.  Hard work for ponies.

Monday: Day off

Tuesday: Dressage lesson. 30min walk warmup followed 45min of trot and canter, with a short walk break halfway through. Lots of transitions and getting pony to sit on her hind end. Very sweaty by the end, but never out of breath.

Wednesday: Accompanied one of the eventers out to do gallop sets. We use a dirt road with undulating hills, about 800m/half mile long for the gallop part. It's the flattest suitable road here, but still to steep to use both ways at a canter or gallop, so mostly the girls canter or gallop up and walk/trot down. B did one and felt like she might die, although recovered quickly. So total outing = about 5km, mostly walk/trot on varied terrain, with about 1km of that being canter or gallop (B did a bit of gallop and tried to keep up, but mostly needed to canter it).

Thursday: Repeat of Sunday. Light flat school in the arena and a 3 km loop walking up and down the big hill.

This weekend, we start with a jump school Friday night, have a clear rounds day on the agenda Saturday, plus a trail outing on Sunday. Next week we're back to regularly scheduled lessons Monday and Wednesday, plus vaulting on Tuesday as well.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Short Lesson Recap

Me: " So I had this great idea."
EC: ?
Me: "I'm going to buy a llama."
EC: "And?"
Me: "I'm going to ride my llama. And you're going to be all "Look at you, riding that llama exactly the way a llama should be ridden." "

Changing the goalposts. Working with your strengths. Whatever we want to call it, I think I'm on to something here.

(I actually had a great lesson. We're consistently getting some "jump" in the canter these days which is exciting to feel after a winter of struggle)

Monday, 20 March 2017

A Good Weekend

It finally feels like spring might make an appearance here. This has been the craziest winter I can remember - usually it's a big event if we get snow here at sea level once. This winter we had below freezing temps and snow for a good part of the winter, plus some crazy windstorms earlier in the season.

Since the arena was for once both dry and unfrozen, we had a barn jump school Friday night. In exchange for me hacking her mare Q, best barn mate C has been riding Bridget once a week or so and usually turning it into a jump school. I could tell she's been working hard because I had a great ride on Bridget - forward and fun, with zero hesitation or sucking back. Confidence inspiring for sure! We kept the jumps small, the session short and positive. I think we might turn this into a weekly thing - it's nice to have fun with it and cheer each other on.
Basically, a semi circle of jumps on a 5 stride line to or from a vertical, plus a 1 stride set of verticals. Make up your own course! The blue thing is my attempt at drawing a barrel - it's what we used for the poles to rest on for the narrow end of our 'corner'.

Saturday, it was partly sunny, but with a super cold wind. We went on about an hour trail ride, and had a great time. The creeks are super deep right now, so Bridget was up to her belly in places, but she's brave about stuff like that.  The only weird moment was going up a super steep hill out of one of the creek ravines. We had a newer rider with us, so opted to walk up it...but it turns out it's hard to get enough traction at a walk. Poor Bridget slid back down a bit before she regained her footing. We finished the loop with a nice canter in the sunshine - nothing like a nice trail ride to cheer everyone up!

Sunday, I mixed it up and did a bit of a flat school and then went out for a fitness ride. B was not overly in the mood yesterday so there was quite a bit of attitude about going forward AND being round. So, we got a bit of good work and then headed out on the road. Instead of letting her move out on a loose rein as I normally would, I had her march up the first part of the road in a rounder frame - something she was pretty upset about - here T goes again changing the rules!  Every time she sucked back, she got a reminder to move up, if she ignored/pinned her ears/sucked back further she got to move up to trot, which obviously she wasn't a fan of. It wasn't part of her game plan and turned our fitness ride into a bit more of a challenge - I was planning to let her walk most of the way up the big hill but was dissatisfied to how behind the leg she still was and made her trot quite a bit of it. Poor pony was sweaty and puffing by the time we got to the top. Being Bridget, I suspect the next time she'll be a lot more honest about things - much easier to quietly walk along on the contact than flail about and have to go forward even more. Since I wasn't in the mood to pick more fights on such a nice day, we walked home on a loose rein, much to B's relief. She's become a teeny bit barn sour, which is a bit funny - normally she could care less, now she walks slightly faster on the way home -you know, like a normal horse would. Crazy pony, getting all hyperactive on me ;)

Friday, 17 March 2017

Tough Love

 I knew I was in for it even as I warmed up - EC had clearly reached her limits with the lesson group ahead of me and there was a lot of telling it like it is going on. When this happens, I'm always worried about the prospect of hearing something I don't want to hear, but I also look forward to tackling the big problems - this seems to be the lessons where the big breakthroughs occur if they're going to.

Because I am an ammy adult with no real ambition and would likely cry if someone went George Morris on me, she scaled back appropriately when we started.  Whew.

We started in trot and B felt like there was zero gas in the tank. Even a tap with the stick netted me about half a stride of a slightly more forward trot.

So, EC picked up the lunge whip, walked to the center of our circle, and followed up my leg with a growl and a snap of the whip. And B just about lost it trying to be best, most forward pony ever. From then on, she just needed to cluck from the sidelines and B was like "HELLO!".

So, rather than a tired pony problem,  it seems we have a rider dedication/ pony respect problem. Bridget has zero issue going to work for EC! Ouch, what little pride I have is hurt.

We did some really nice canter work and some great trot work. Tons of transitions, tons of getting pony using her hind leg more quickly, tons of rider needing to ride better work. We were both huffing and puffing by the end - we had a super workout!
Failed barn door vista for Emma. We work until after dark right now.

My homework:

-Hands stay even and still. Imagine they are side reins and don't move, no matter what. Pony needs to move up into the contact and take me along, and she's very,very, particular about the contact right now, even a tiny wiggle is enough to get her to suck back. For now I need to be contrary to my nature and not be soft or giving, she needs to learn to take a better, more consistent feel and she can't do that if I am always giving or taking.

-Outside shoulder stays back, helping outside rein stay strong and steady. Outside shoulder is my nemesis.

-Fitness for all. I want to be stronger. B needs to be fitter. As per first vet, (the original vet who saw her last year) there's currently nothing wrong with B other than being too fat! Also, of note, several of the other horses in the barn have started coughing a bit, so either we have had a mild virus circulating or the new batch of (gorgeous looking/smelling) hay is a bit dusty.  Things to consider, anyway. So, part of our current prescription is lots of fitness work. Sad in a way, because we already do focus so much on pony fitness, but challenge accepted, I added extra trot and canter into our fitness ride tonight, and will start timing the intervals more diligently. I might also consider adding a second ride per day to her schedule as life permits.

-Pony weight loss. As mentioned, B is living in a grazing muzzle during the day and is pretty sad about it. I'm still on the fence about the thyroxine. She's actually not currently a terrible weight *for her* but I concede she is the typical Thelwell pony and she could stand to lose a few if we want to pretend she's a sport pony:)

-Don't listen when B tells me she is tired/dying. She's a pony, and as such cannot be trusted when exercise is involved.

Personal goal:

Start planning and laying out budgets for shows and clinics this year.

I'm listening to advice and we're going to (literally) work our butts off to try to get to the eventing camp the third week of April, and follow that with an event 2 weeks later if all goes well. The clinic will tell us whether or not we're on the right track fitness and health wise, so after much consideration I've decided to drop the second opinion/specialist vet appointment the week before and reschedule it for after (should we see issues).